After more than two years of production, Holocaust film debuts in Novi.
After more than two years of production, Shoah Ambassadors, the Holocaust documentary film directed and produced by Keith Famie, premiered at a community showing Nov. 11 at the Novi Emagine Theatre.
The film is a new take on telling the Holocaust story, focused on educating the youth about the horrors and atrocities of the genocide through ambassadors Curtis Bates and Hailey Callahan, who tell the story through their own unique artistic expression.
In attendance were Bates and Callahan, many of the Michigan-based Holocaust survivors involved in the film, supporters and executive producers, the Detroit Children’s Choir and many members of the community in a packed theater.
Shoah Ambassadors will also make its debut on DPTV/PBS Nov. 18 at 9 p.m. DPTV/PBS is airing it a second time on Sunday, Dec. 12, at 9 p.m. as part of Jewish Heritage Night.
Before the showing, Dan Alpert, retired senior vice president of Detroit Public Television (PBS), and Dani Dayan, chairman of Yad Vashem, gave opening remarks about how important the film will be for the younger generation in learning about important events like the Holocaust. Famie then offered his thoughts on the film and thanked attending supporters.
The showing was a huge hit, and after the film, many attendees went out of their way to seek out pictures and autographs from Bates and Callahan.
Priscila Lozano, a 14-year-old Novi High School student in attendance, plans to learn more about the Holocaust after seeing the film and to spread the film’s story and messages to friends.
“I really liked it. It gave me a different person’s point of view on how the Holocaust happened and everything they went through,” Lozano said. “It was really moving.”
Holocaust survivor Irene Miller speaks all over the country telling her story and the Holocaust story at large, but she said taking part in the film and seeing it all put together was still an emotional experience for her.
“Not too many of us Holocaust survivors are left alive, and it reminds me how important it is to reach out to young people and pass on to them the responsibility to tell this story,” Miller said.
For both Bates and Callahan, whose respective families were in attendance, it was a life-changing experience. Both ambassadors plan to continue spreading the film’s message.
“This is my first time seeing it all the way through, so it was wonderful seeing hard work come to life. I’m happy it touched people more than anything,” Bates said.
“It’s definitely a very overwhelming feeling, in a good way,” Callahan added. “It’s a lot to take in, but I’m just still very honored to be a part of it, especially seeing how huge it all is now. I hope it reaches a lot of people.”
For Famie, after almost two and a half years of working on the project and seeing the premiere come to fruition, there’s a feeling that the work really begins now.
“Now we have something that’s extraordinary, that we know is powerful and educational, so now how do we get it into the general, social and societal pathways to be absorbed by the educational community on all levels?” Famie said. “That’s where our focus is, how do we start doing showings in New York and Washington, D.C,. and Los Angeles, how do we create a momentum now and let that momentum carry forth the power of this message and the power of understanding.”
Famie is in the process of reaching out to major organizations across the country, film festivals and various potential broadcasting venues to see how far they can reach with it.
“Not just locally, not just nationally, internationally. We want to see this as a global film, and I think it has that potential,” Famiesaid. “I think Curtis and Hailey resonate with their peer group really well. ‘Shoah Ambassadors’ now has a whole new meaning and I hope that from this film, we create thousands and thousands of new Shoah Ambassadors. That will be the real power of this story and film.”
Famie and the Shoah Ambassadors team are still raising the necessary funds to ensure the film production will be seen internationally. To learn more about the film and/or to support, visit shoahambassadors.com.